Royal DSM (Heerlen, The Netherlands) recently announced it has joined the LIPA-Team, set up to develop an industrial process for the manufacture of endless-fiber-reinforced advanced thermoplastic composite parts. LIPA stands for “Lightweight Integrated Process Application.” DSM will contribute with materials know-how and in-depth understanding of polyamide 6 applications.
Christian Götze, head of development at Georg Kaufmann Formenbau, the lead partner of LIPA, says “With the participation of DSM as support-partner in the LIPA-Team, we can extend our existing competence for polyamide 6 applications. DSM will support with application-specific know-how regarding material selection, part development, engineering and material processing. We are convinced that with DSM`s participation we can make another important step forward in the technology of combining injection molding with thermoplastic composites with continuous fiber reinforcements.”
The key to success of advanced thermoplastic composites in automotive applications produced in high volumes is automated manufacturing processes. The LIPAseries Project Team has developed an integrated process that involves the preheating of an organic sheet (a preform of thermoplastic impregnated continuous fibers), transporting it robotically to the LIPA tool in an injection molding machine, and back-injecting it with thermoplastic to create the final part. All steps in the total process—primarily heating, handling, reshaping, injecting—must be perfectly coordinated with one another, with the tool, as well as with the handling system. The various development partners can call on more than 20 years of experience in back-injection and pressing of flexible materials such as textiles or thermoplastic sheets.
DSM’s participation in the LIPA-Team complements other important initiatives it has recently taken in the collaborative development of advanced thermoplastic composites for high-strength lightweight automotive applications.
DSM is also a partner in the European Union-sponsored ENLIGHT project that aims to accelerate the technological development of a portfolio of materials with high potential to reduce weight and overall carbon footprint in medium-to-high volume electric vehicles (EVs). In addition to this, DSM is one of the founding partners in AZL, the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production, which will develop automated production of load‐ and cost‐optimized lightweight components, suitable for mass production and versatile process chains in composite and multi‐material design.
DSM is launching a range of carbon fiber reinforced composites based on DSM’s trademarked EcoPaXX polyamide 410, Akulon polyamide 6 and Stanyl polyamide 46, to significantly reduce weight in body and chassis parts. Glass fiber reinforced composites will be targeted at reducing the weight of semi-structural components.
“These initiatives are a perfect fit with DSM’s “Bright Science Brighter Living” strategy of developing innovative and sustainable solutions that create more value with less environmental impact along the supply chain, through to the final user,” says Danilo Fioravante, global business director, Akulon and EcoPaXX. “Working closely with partners is essential to ensuring the successful and rapid implementation of these solutions.”
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